Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Getting the right Meditation Cushion - a journey worth taking

Like many things to do with the bodymind, there are variables to consider and some adaptation to circumstance that is necessary to achieve balance - if only for now.

Help your muscles recover

During the night our muscles recover from the day's use by ridding themselves of wastes, doing repair to damaged fibers, and replenishing stores of the nutrients and electrolytes that make future contractions possible. In the process, muscles shorten and our joints tighten up by morning. Gentle stretching, especially of the backs of the legs and the large postural muscles surrounding the hip sockets, helps us to take a comfortable seat without putting undue stress on the joints. Even after taking a seat, you might notice there is tightness along the tops of a thigh, or just where the knee meets the thigh muscles. Take a second to rub the area a little to focus a little stretch right into the part of the soft tissue that is complaining, then go back to your focus.

Watch the flow of breath

Check to see if you are cutting off the the flow of breath by slumping forward ever so slightly just below the ribs. Your diaphragm needs to be as free as possible to move up and down with the breath. If you find that you are, or just to run a comparison check, roll your shoulders up, back and towards each other slightly. Float up from the crown of your head as if drawn skyward by a strong thread. Breathe in deeply as you do, and on exhaling allow your spine to remain to retain some of this lengthening. Scan for tension and subtle straining - there is no need to strive for perfection, just take today's best seat in the house. The right cushion can work wonders for you here. Keep feeling your way into it.

Be aware of injuries and individual structure

You may have injuries or structural asymmetry - often this will be evident as one hip being higher that the other. These are very specific from person to person. I have a background in massage therapy, and talking to folks who call Sun and Moon Originals about getting a cushion has helped me gain experience in this area.

What's your experience? What works best for you?